If you watch the video above, the most general and logical conclusion might be, "Oh, hey, check it: Dudes with beards playing folk music." And while that's right to a point, there's more to these frames than the (great) song and the singing.
To recap, Eau Claire, Wisc., quartet DeYarmond Edison moved to a big white house near the corner of Everett Avenue and Oberlin Road in Raleigh at the start of August 2005. DeYarmond Edison quickly charmed plenty of folks in Raleigh, myself included, with folk-and-soul-based tunes that expanded through a cappella arrangements, bursts of noise and excellent playing. (See our Feb. 2006 story about all of that here and see Derek Anderson's slideshow here.) During a residency at the late Bickett Gallery, the band's frontman, Justin Vernon, first experimented with a falsetto vocal style in public, while the band itself focused on expanding its improvisational and avant impulses. Several months later, DeYarmond Edison broke up and, several months after that, Vernon headed home to Wisconsin, where he recorded the bulk of an album called For Emma, Forever Ago under the name Bon Iver and using that falsetto. The rest of DeYarmond Edison—Brad Cook, Phil Cook, Joe Westerlund—stayed in Raleigh, recording its own album, Bury the Square, as Megafaun, and stretching the boundaries of their songs wide.
On Feb. 18, 2008, they shared the stage again, Megafaun opening for Bon Iver at a dual CD release party at Chapel Hill's Local 506. (See our video of that show here.) Over the next 19 months, the bands didn't share a stage again: Megafaun toured several times behind its debut, while Bon Iver's own debut became one of the more-storied and better-selling releases of the decade. International acclaim and tours followed, as well as a follow-up EP, Blood Bank. Meanwhile, Megafaun recorded and released its second album, Gather, Form & Fly, with the Portland label Hometapes, and they've met wide critical acclaim of their own. Last Saturday, the bands met again in, of all places, Omaha, Neb., where Bon Iver was beginning a short tour of large theaters, like the Paramount in Austin and the Filmore in San Francisco. Vernon asked Megafaun to open the tour, and they agreed.
So that video above is Bon Iver—Vernon, seated, with his new bandmates Matt McCaughan, Sean Carey and Mike Noyce—and Megafaun playing Megafaun's "Worried Mind" at, of all places, The Filmore. Or DeYarmond Edison+.
In related news:
—Justin Vernon's new collaboration with instrumental wonders Collections of Colonies of Bees as Volcano Choir, Unmap, was released Tuesday via Jagjaguwar. It received an 8.3 and the distinction of Best New Music this morning at Pitchfork Media. Download the track "Island, IS" here.
—Megafaun will perform at Nightlight in Chapel Hill Friday, Oct. 16, with Black Twig Pickers and Charlie Parr.
—As Bowerbirds' Beth Tacular mentioned in an Independent piece earlier this month, Megafaun and Vernon seem to have a new project going with Ivan Howard of The Rosebuds called Gayngs. Trust me: You're not ready for Gayngs, but with the right mix of lust and chemicals, you might be.